Every time Brad Evans has a chance to play a match in his native Arizona, it’s a big occasion. Next week, he will join the U.S. National Team for a friendly against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium and he’s looking forward to the next opportunity to prove himself on the international stage.
“Anytime you play a rival like that you know it’s going to be a packed house,” Evans said. “It’s in my hometown too so that would be a big deal.”
Evans will be among Sounders FC teammates when he leaves for Arizona after Seattle’s match against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, as DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey were also on the 22-man roster announced by U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Wednesday.
They are three players with much different situations, but the same goal in mind – make an impact on the 2014 World Cup roster in June.
Dempsey has been a regular call-up for Klinsmann, earning 102 caps and wearing the captain’s armband for Klinsmann’s side. For him and a select few others, the match next Wednesday will be more of a tune up than a trial.
Evans has moved into the starting right back role after a strong showing in 2013, but knows nothing is set in stone, treating each opportunity to put on the jersey as an audition for Brazil. Even while it does come in a decidedly different role, he carries that same mindset into his play for Seattle.
“Any second, anything can happen. My main focus now is this weekend and that’s where it will remain. Then when things do happen, you deal with them appropriately and don’t get too far fixed on the future,” said Evans, who missed last weekend’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact with a calf injury. “I’m hoping to go 90 minutes this weekend. That’s the focus.”
Yedlin was called up in January camp for the first time, made his U.S. debut in February and is also looking to impress Klinsmann at the right back position, but has limited opportunities to do so.
“I’m just taking it game-by-game. If you look too far ahead, you start getting caught up in things and that’s not what I want to do at this point,” said the 20-year-old Seattle native. “I’m excited to get in the group again and get in with the guys.”
Both Evans and Yedlin are inching closer to inclusion on the roster for Brazil and will be competing with each other in a right back position that has seen some turnover in recent years. Evans seized the position with an injury to stalwart Steve Cherundolo and has shown an ability to play the role even while playing in the midfield for Seattle. Yedlin has a chance to command that same sort of attention with each call-up.
“Every time you get an opportunity, it’s a big plus and you gain a little more confidence in yourself as a player,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “Right now the national team situation at outside back is a little bit cloudy with Cherundolo’s retirement and with (Tim) Chandler being injured, so I think (Klinsmann) has got to look at different options that he has back there.”
The friendly against Mexico shouldn’t affect the availability of any of the players to play for Seattle in the two matches on the surrounding weekends. Schmid will have both Yedlin and Evans available on Saturday when Seattle faces the Columbus Crew while Dempsey serves the second match of a two-game suspension, then all three will be available against the Portland Timbers on April 5 at Providence Park in Portland.
“It’s always a function of how many minutes they play on the Wednesday night, but at least the travel isn’t an issue,” Schmid said, noting the excitement within Sounders camp to have so many players represented on the roster. “To have three guys representing your club with the national team in a game against Mexico is a nice honor.”
The roster features 19 MLS players, with Bayern Munich’s Julian Green and Puebla’s DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco the only players from outside of the league called in for the match. Along with Seattle, Real Salt Lake also has three players on the squad (Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Luis Gil), while the LA Galaxy (Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan), D.C. United (Bill Hamid and Eddie Johnson), Sporting Kansas City (Matt Besler and Graham Zusi) and the San Jose Earthquakes (Clarence Goodson and Chris Wondolowski) have two each. The remaining roster is Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) and Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union).